Don’t worry you still have plenty of time to check off those items on your summer bucket list. For most of us that may include hiking up a high mountain, ditching the car, and exploring the wonders of backpacking. With plenty of time ahead, don’t forget about the natural wonders of your local national parks. Whether you have a week to explore or only a weekend, our national parks are a wonderous place to do what you love! Keep some of these tips in mind next time you pack up the RV (or the Prius) and explore a new national park this summer!
1) Know what time of the year to go
While most of us won’t just pick a spot on a map and head out the next day, we should all do at least a some research on the planned destination. Places like Zion National Park and Moab, Utah are outstanding and miraculous places to visit but let’s not forget the scorching weather that occurs every summer. Unless you enjoy hiking in 104 F degrees, you may want to hold off on this trip until mid-fall or early spring. Conduct a quick google search and try to plan accordingly. Of course, summer is an ideal time to take off work - especially if you have kids - but try to plan so everyone enjoys the park with as little complaints as possible!
2) Travel Light
Packing for a vacation is narrowed down to a science for some, or the most stressful event in the world for others. The size of the family will affect your decisions but try to pack light! A good rule of thumb is to bring one outfit for different weather scenarios. Layers will always win when it comes to the weather! Keep in mind most National Parks have laundry sites available so if you plan to stay longer then a week, plan on washing what you have instead of packing more. When the weather turns you don’t want to be stuck rummaging through your pack for 10 minutes looking for what you need.
Photo Credit: Matt Godfrey
3) Experience Local
Check in with the rangers when you arrive and ask for some local advice. They are there to help! Try a trail that isn’t on the parks ‘top trails list’ to avoid some of the crowds, eat at a local restaurant away from main street, or stay in an Airbnb or local lodge instead of a Motel 6. Not only will you beat the crowds, but you may meet some interesting people or see something spectacular!
4) Leave the park better than you found it.
With an increasing number of visitors visiting our national parks every year the Leave No Trace policy is just as important as ever. A few simple ways you can help:
Reduce the amount of plastic you bring into the park
Pack a reusable water bottle and fill up at the designated stations (for free!)
Bring along a small bag and simply carabiner it to your day bag. Pick up any trash along the way that others may have left behind.
Stay on the trail so the beautiful plants and wildflowers will be there for the next generation to enjoy.
Photo Credit: @bomberproducts
5) Furry Friend Rules
Some National Parks welcome your fluffy BFF and others strictly forbid it. Conduct a quick google search before the trip to find out or simply call the local ranger station to get the details. Some parks allow furry friends in campsites, but not on the trails. Others allow them on certain trails with specific markings. Know before you go so you and your furry friend can enjoy the most out of the trip. Check out this helpful article for some trail ideas in your national park.
Photo Credit: Matt Godfrey
Fold up your Blue Ridge Chair, pack up the car and head out on your next adventure!
“There is a delight in the hardy life of the open. There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy and its charm. The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased and not impaired in value. Conservation means development as much as it does protection.” - Theodore Roosevelt. President of the United States